Every pastor has gotten the question. Sometimes it's direct: "So what exactly does a pastor do?" Other times it comes indirectly: "Would you be willing to … (fill in the blank)?"

A couple weeks ago, I heard a beautifully succinct summation of pastoring. I was worshiping with a congregation made up mostly of twenty-somethings who had not been raised in church. As the service began, the pastor introduced himself and his calling.

"My name is Tom," he said. "I'm a pastor here. It's my job to pray for you, whether you're a Christian or not, and to talk with you about Jesus, whether you're a Christian or not. That's what I do."

It's just that simple, and it's just that complicated. Because talking about Jesus leads us into all aspects of life. And when we pray for people, the deeper, unresolved parts of their lives inevitably surface. It has always been this way.

Around A.D. 400, famous North African bishop Augustine described a pastor's job: "Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited ...

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